The lungworm Angiostrongylus vasorum (also known as French Heartworm) is a parasite that infects dogs. The adult of this particular lungworm lives in the heart and major blood vessels supplying the lungs, where it can cause a host of problems. Left untreated, the infection can often be fatal.

How does my dog become infected?lungworm-slug

The lungworm parasite is carried by slugs and snails. The problem arises when dogs purposefully or accidentally eat these common garden pests when rummaging through undergrowth, eating grass, drinking from puddles or outdoor water bowls, or pick them up from their toys.

Foxes can also become infected with the lungworm, and have been implicated in the spread of the parasite across the country.

 

Lungworm is not known to infect humans. Cats can become infected with another type of lungworm (Aelurostrongylus abstrusus). However, infections seem to be rare and the outcome tends not to be as severe as in dogs. If you are worried that your cat may be showing symptoms similar to those described to the dog (particularly coughing), speak to us for advice.

Signs of Lungworm
Dogs of all ages and breeds can become infected with lungworm. However, younger dogs seem to be more prone to picking up the parasite. Dogs known to eat slugs and snails should also be considered high risk.lungworm-banner

Lungworm infections can result in a number of different signs which may easily be confused with other illnesses. If your dog is displaying any of the signs below please consult immediately.

There are some dogs which don't initially show outward signs of lungworm infection. If you are concerned we can perform tests which may help detect if your dog is infected with the lungworm parasite.

  • Breathing problems or coughing, tiring more easily.
  • Poor blood clotting leading to excessive bleeding from minor wounds, nose bleeds, bleeding into the eye, and anaemia.
  • Behavioural changes, seizures (fits), spinal pain, weightloss, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Diagnose
We can perform in our Midhurst laboratorium a bloodtest to detect the Lungworm.

Treatment and Prevention
There is a a specific spot on treatment for your dog if it becomes infected with lungworm. This spot can be also used on a monthly basis to prevent your dog developing an infection with this parasite. Please ask us for more information.

Lungworm is not prevented or treated by most worming tablets!


Information source: Bayer, the makers of Advocate®

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